the Christmas Excitement
By: Gary Direnfeld, MSW
Gary Direnfeld is a Child Behaviour Expert and Social Worker
There area few things as exciting in the eyes of young children
as Christmas. Stores come alive with displays, lights and tinsel.
There is music, cookies and treats, dreams of toys and of course
Young children look up with eyes as big as saucers. Last year's
memories of Christmas may be gone as the child was too young to
remember, so now they look on as if it is the first time. They are
filled with bewilderment and excitement. The pace of their parents,
the decorations in the house and stories of what is to come, fuel
as the big day approaches, parents pace may change from fast to frantic,
the stores become ever crowded and the sheer noise of the season can
become deafening. The child moves from bewilderment and excitement
to being overwhelmed and scared. Rather than enjoying their child's
joy, parents may find themselves managing their child's behaviour.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause, but remember that Santa
and Christmas can be a stressful time not only for parents, but
for young children too.
Parents can help keep Christmas within tolerable limits for their
young children by following these few simple tips:
Keep your child's routine stable. Bedtime, naptime, mealtimes and
all other regular activities should be maintained as best as possible.
These routines provide stability and certainty in the life of the
child and helps keep them feeling safe and secure.
2) Avoid extra snacks, cookies and candies. The rush and fall
of sugar in a child's diet can cause both bursts of energy and
fatigue as the sugar wears off. These highs and lows can lead
to behaviour difficulties. If you want to give your child a treat,
limit the size and consider offering it as a special dessert -
after an appropriate meal.
3) If you take your child on Christmas shopping trips, limit the
amount of time you are out and consider taking the stroller or allowing
for breaks. Although you may think kids have more energy than you,
they really do tire quickly from walking about a shopping mall.
Also, consider going out early in the day, before the stores get
busy and crowded. Being in a noisy crowded space can be very overwhelming
to young children.
4) Think safety. Use non-flammable and non-breakable decorations
when trimming the tree. With young children in the home, you may
consider placing the tree in a special room with a door that can
be closed to prevent the child from wondering in.
T'is the season for fun and excitement. Parents who follow these
tips may just find the season a little more manageable for themselves
as well as their young child.
make it a Merry Christmas!
Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Buy the book:
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising
Kids Without Raising Cane